tv AB Cs World News With Charles Gibson ABC November 3, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
warren buffett's company makes its biggest deal effort, calling it an all-in bet on the u.s. economy. bad chemistry. a new study finds a controversial chemical is in the packaging of every day foods. and, no need to worry about getting to the church on time, now there's a chapel that will come to you. good evening. it may be more than the floor mats. as we have reported in recent weeks, toyota has conducted the largest safety recall in its history the owners of 3.8 million toyotas and leg us cans were warned of problems with the floor mats that might get stuck. but late today the department of transportation put out this statement. removal of the mats is simply an interim measure, not a remedy to the underlying defect in the
vehicles. an underlying defect? our chief investigative correspondent brian ross has been looking into this. >> reporter: safety officials said the underlying cause of some 2,000 so-called run away toyotas remains under active investigation. until today, toyota had solely blamed the wrong floor mat s or driver error. a growing number of owners are coming forward to insist that floor mats don't explain the mystery of what happened to them. the outcry began even before the tragic accident on this highway outside san diego in august involving a 2009 lexus driven by an off duty california highway patrol officer was out of control. >> our accelerator is stuck. we're in trouble. we can't -- there's no brakes. >> reporter: a passenger called 911 from the back seat. >> we're approaching the intersection. we're approaching the intersection. hold on. pray. >> reporter: all four people died after the lexus hit another
car, crashed in an embankment and burst into flames. toyota said the problem was the wrong sized all-weather rubber floor mat in the car, which caught and held down the gas pedal. the company ordered a huge floor mat recall and the federal government urged consumers to follow. but across the country, some owners, including paul and saskia mclean of california, say floor mats can't be the only cause of the problem. the mcleans were driving in the mojave desert when their toyota highlander shot up to 100 miles an hour. their car did not have the recalled floor mats. and you're certain there was nothing underneath the gas pedal? >> no. i looked. >> yeah. >> i bent over and looked. no there was nothing. >> reporter: in portland, oregon, marianna eisner's lexus crashed into a truck after it shot out of control on the freeway in september. she says she had already heard about the floor mat problem and made a point of checking hers. >> the mat was nowhere near the
accelerator. >> reporter: some owners are now suing toyota, claiming there must be a glitch in the basis electronic computer system that controls the throttle. >> we've experienced those glitches in our personal computers where something just happens. we don't know why. >> reporter: federal investigators say they haven't been able to find any such defect. but the number of run away toyota complaints sharply increased after the electronic system was put into use in 2002, according to safety analyst shawn cane. >> this problem can be expected by the floor mats. >> reporter: in a statement posted online, a toyota official discounted reports of electronic or other possible defects. >> there is no evidence to support these theories. >> reporter: but today, federal safety officials said toyota was wrong to suggest its cars have been given a clean bill of health by the government. so, the investigation continues, charlie. >> but brian, when you read the statement that came from the department of transportation this afternoon, that says the
floor mats are not a remedy to the underlying defect in the vehicles. but they don't identify what that defect is. sounds like they don't know. >> reporter: we've talked to some of them today and they say it involves the design of the driver's side floor and the design of the gas pedal as first reported by "the los angeles times." in the electronics, they haven't found a problem, but they continue to investigate. >> leaves a real question in the people who own toyotas. >> reporter: it's a huge question. and they call it a very potentially dangerous situation. >> brian ross, thank you. our chief investigative correspondent. and you can see much more of brian's reporting later on "nightline." and we have additional information on toyota's recall, and a video common trags of what to do if your car accelerates out of control. you'll find that all on "the world newser" at abcnews.com. politics is next. this is election day in a few parts of the country. most watched are governor's races in new jersey and
virginia. there is a temptation to look at the results as a gauge of how people think the president is doing. is that fair this time? the president did campaign for the democrats in both those races. jake tapper is at the white house again tonight. jake? >> reporter: good evening, charlie. white house officials argue this is no way a referendum on president obama. these are local races. but republicans, perhaps smeming some victories tonight, point out that today is the first opportunity voters have had to register their feelings about president obama and the democratic congress. in new jersey, president obama is not only the ballot. bull he's on the phone. >> hi, this is president obama. i want to apologize for disturbing you. >> repter: the president's robo calls to voters in the garden state follow his campaign appearances for the state's unpopular democratic governor, jon corzine. locked in a neck and neck race with republican former federal prosecutor chris chris tooe.
>> jon was one of the best colleagues i had in the senate. and one of the best partners i have in the white house. >> reporter: the white house insists the results of that race and the virginia governor's race will not say anything about support for the president. but the feelings of vote are relevant to the president's future successes and failures, and perhaps in next year's congressional mid-term elections. preliminary exit polls indicate that most voters in new jersey and many in virginia approve of handling his job and said he was not a factor in their votes. but major tips are worried about the economy. democrat officials fret about a lack of enthusiasm among their supporters, such as virginia voter and cafe owner jawad, who says he's discouraged and disappointed. >> i decided not to vote because my vote doesn't matter. they have an agenda that whatever you vote for doesn't get done. >> reporter: enthusiasm among conservative act visits are key in a special election for a congressional seat in upstate
new york, where sarah palin and tea party act visits forced the republican candidate to quit the race because she was considered too liberal. they're supporting the conservative party candidate. >> all along i've been fighting for the soul of the republican party. >> reporter: the republican who dropped out is now making robo calls for the democratic candidate. >> and i wanted to let you know that i am supporting bill for congress. >> reporter: the white house puts focus on that new york coressional race, charlie. they say the message from the republican party is, no moderates are welcome. charlie? >> all right, jake tapper on today's elections. and mayors are also being elected in large cities. boston, new york, atlanta and houston. and those last two steps, atlanta and houston are interesting. atlanta may well elect its first white mayor in a generation. and houston could become the biggest city in the country to elect an openly gay person to run city hall. so, we have two reports, beginning with steve osunsami in
atlanta. >> i will interact with every single council person. >> reporter: mary norwood is a surprise. she lives in "old money" atlanta, and somehow has more than a third of the city's black voters supporting her. >> i don't care about color. that's unimportant to me, color. race is unimportant. just do wh you say you're going to do. >> reporter: in a city that remains more than 60% african-american, black voters appear ready for a change. >> what we're seeing are african-american voters, who in the past have voted for the so-called machine and not prospered in recent years under that machine. and now, they're willing to say, "let's look at another candidate. and race really is not the number one issue for them. >> reporter: he sayse recession has put more black a e session has put more black a >> i like to hear a little more about the color green than about the color black o >> reporter: but deep in many black neighborhoods, there is the sense that black residents are surrendering yor'o cf3
>> i'd rather see an a >> reporter: even former mayor andrew young is encouraging black residents to unite behind this man, kasim reed. but in a city once at the center of the civil rights struggle, there's now a movement to move beyond race. >> reporter: i'm ryan owens in houston, where anissi parker is working hard -- >> i'm not out of the closet, i'm out on the front lawn. >> reporter: -- to become the first openly gay woman elected mayor of a major american city. a city dotted with mega churches. in heart of the reliably red state of texas. >> the most important thing to me is to win this job and lead my city. >> reporter: the impression is you don't like to talk about your personal life. you don't want t abo being alesb >> that's just -- i have been -- i have bn so out for so long that it's just -- it doesn't mean i have to talk about. >> reporter: and she hasn't had to. her opponents have never brought it up in their four debates. >>ly always tell you the truth, even if it makes you not vote
for me. >> reporter: in fact, this race has focused on budges and not a word about sexuality. >> what difference does it e it's really not an issue to me. it's what she's going to do on the job. >> reporter: parker is 53 and has lived with her partner for nearly two decades. they adopted t her partner was by her side each of the eight times she's been inaugurated, most recently as city controller. tonight, she's hoping to win the city's top job and make history in the process. >> and other races here in new york, mayor michael bloomberg successfully fought to end the city's term limits so he could run for a third term the major is on track to spend $100 million of his own money on this campaign. whether a state law permitting e same sex marriage should stand. if it does, maine would become the first state to endorse same sex marriage through a voter referendum. overseas to afghanistan, where one day after being declared the winner of the
election, prident had karzai said today he would work to rid his government of corruption. karzai said he wanted members of the opposition to join him. he didn't mention abdullah abdul will directly, but he has said he will not join the karzai government. still ahead on "world news," warren buffett make as $34 billion bet. why the famous investor is so bullish on the u.s. economy. high levels of a controversial chemical, bpa, are found in familiar foods. a report on which ones, coming up. and talk about a moving wedding ceremony. the story behind this unique chapel on wheels. woman down from nasal allergy attack. but we've ot the amunition she needs: omnaris. (troops) omnaris! to the nose. (general) omnaris works .differently than many other .allergy medications. omnaris fights nasal allergy symptoms that occur from .allergic inflammation... relieve those symptoms with omnaris. side effects may include headache, nosebleed and ore throat. her nose is at ease. we have lift off. (general) remember omnaris! ask your doctor.
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one of one of america's wealthiest people cast a big vote of confidence in the u.s. economy today. berkshire hathaway is going to invest $34 billion for complete ownership of burlington northern, the nation's top freight rail road. all-in bet on the future of the united states. bianna golodryga has the story. >> reporter: good evening, charlie. what warren buffet calls his bet on america is his largest deal ever made, but the real headline behind the deal is not how much it costs, but what it says about the u.s. economy. right there. >> okay, the hot seat. >> reporter: in an exclusive interview this summer, warren buffett told abc news that when it comes to gauging whether or not the economy is on track, one of his focuses is on railroad tracks. what indicators do you look at
on a daily basis? >> i do think thgs rail car holdings are important. i mean, that tells you what is coming in to this country, going out and so on. >> reporter: at the time, his general outlook was somber. freight shipments had declined by 20% from one year before. today, he provided this statement to abc news. "i have no notion of what the next quarter or next year will bring, but i'm 100% confident in the economic future of the united states 5, 10 and 100 years down the road." >> the railroad system is one of thnation's oldest industrialized sectors, but it's also one of the most significant sectors. it's really also a vote of confidence in the economic recovery. >> reporter: buffet isn't the only famous business figure to follow less run of the mill. indicators. former federal reserve chief alan greenspan focuses on scrap steel prices. jack welch, the legendary former ge ceo famously stated that he tracked light bulb sales. if customers bought more bulbs in bulk, the economy was doing
well. if they bought more individual bulbs, then he was worried. and earlier this year, treasury secretary tim geithner told abc news that he monitors more than 60 indicators each day -- ranging from copper to currency prices. >> many of those indications, including scrap steel prices, including commodity prices more generally, all tell us that the recession has co to an end. >> reporter: of course, most americans still focus on more main stream indicators, home prices, manufacturing and most importantly, jobs. and those they have all shown signs of improvement in the past few months, you don't have to be warren buffett to know the road, even the rail road to recovery has a ways to go, charlie. >> bianna, thanks very much. one other note "on the money" tonight. ups and downs for u.s. auto sales last night. gm rose almost 5% in october. gm's first year over year sales gains in almost two years. ford saw an increase of more than 3%, with fuel efficient 2010 models selling well.
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numb numbers out today show the u.s. lagging far behind many other countries when it comes to infant mortality. while singapore, sweden and hong kong had the lowest infant mortality rates, the united states far down the list at number 30, in between poland and slovakia. researchers say the high rate of premature births is in the u.s. is caused by maternal obesity and smoking. and test results out tonight on a wide range of popular foods show many contain surprising levels of a chemical called bpa. almost all of the 19 name brand foods tested contain some bpa. an additive that's been linked to a long list of health problems. here's lisa stark. >> reporter: "consumer reports" says the results of its bpa tests offer a senateshot of what consumers will find in the grocery store. and they say it's not a pretty
picture. >> consumer cannot tell how much bpa may have gotten into the food in any canned food item that they pick up, and the story here is, you don't know, and i can't know. >> reporter: bpa is a chemical that has long been used in everything from baby bottles to the lining of canned goods. some studies have linked bpa exposure to reproductive problems and increased risk of cancer and diabetes. consumers union found the highest del monte green beans and progreso vegetable soup. >> that child could ingest a dose close to the level that already causes harm in animal studies. >> reporter: the test even found the chemical in vital choice cantu that, marketed as bpa free. the economy says it is dismayed and is determined to find the source of the problem. it was a different story in paper products. no bpa in similac poered
infant formula or in nestle juicy juice. reacting to the report, the grocery industry insists there's no cause for alarm. >> we would hate for them to be scared away by one report, when the vast majority of the regulatory agencies globally have assured its safety. >> reporter: government scientists have studied bpa, and there is disagreement about whether or not low levels of exposure are dangerous. but there's been so much consumer concern that the leading baby bottle manufacturers will now make bottles without the chemical. the food and drug administration is doing its final review of the chemical, with results expected at the end of the month. for many consumers, answers cannot come soon enough. lisa stark, abc news, washington. and up next on "world news," toasting the bride and groom on the back of a truck. like she was drifting away. we wanted to be there for her...
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> fi finally tonight, what may be the perfect touch for a bride and groom on the go. this is a story, i guess, for couples getting married who don't have the time to get married. barbara pinto has found a wedding chapel that will come to you. it is a little church that makes house calls. >> do you have rings?
>> reporter: there's the vegas wedding. >> i do. >> reporter: then, there's this. reverend daryl best and his family he come uwith the rural alternative. >> we would like to see it bringing las vegas to the midwest. >> reporter: or anywhere els from that matter. it's called the best man, a wedding chapel on wheels. for a fee -- >> $200, plus $2 a mile round trip. >> reporter: the best man will roll anywhere, in pursuit of wedded bliss. >> this is a wedding at the illinois state fair. this is a biker wedding. >> reporter: the former fire truck was born again as a chapel, thanks to the makeover show "trick my truck." >> we have two custom built pews. >> reporter: stain glass windows and a sound system disguised as a pipe organ. all now parked on the shows of lake shelbyville. >> are we ready? >> yeah, we are. >> reporter: for karen and greg, the aisle is a parking lot. the alter a fender. >> do you promise to have karen your wedded wife?
>> i do. >> i know pronounce you husband and wife. you may seal your vows with a kiss. >> i love it. i'm not ashamed. i think it's wonderful. >> people want to get married, and their own way, a lot of people do. not everybody wants the traditional can church wedding. >> reporter: when the best man isn't stirring up love, it's creating a stir. >> never seen anything like this. but it's definitely different. ♪ love me tender >> reporter: the wedding chapel may drive off, but love is here to stay. i love you, too. >> reporter: barbara pinto, abc news, shelbyville, illinois. >> why not? that is "world news" for this tuesday. i'm charlie gibson, and i hope you had a good day. for all of us at abc news, have a good night.